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Ecommerce conversion rates decline as use of email automation ramps up

Email is a near-ubiquitous marketing tool. In 2023, 278 million people in the US will use email, representing 91.6% of internet users and 82.0% of the population, according to our latest forecast.

And increased engagement with email was a top priority for most US marketers surveyed in July 2022 by Ascend2 and OMI.

But getting noticed in email inboxes is becoming harder and harder to do. In Insider Intelligence’s Industry KPIs, newly added data from Omnisend shows just how crowded inboxes have gotten.

Ecommerce email conversion rates have dropped dramatically since more marketers began using automated email marketing in 2021, following the pandemic-induced shift to online shopping.

Why are email conversion rates so much lower than they were in 2020?

  • The total number of emails has soared thanks to the wider use of email automation, which has displaced the use of scheduled campaigns with select cadences.

How many more marketers are using automation this year?

  • 64% of US marketing professionals named automation as the top email marketing trend included in their plans, per Ascend2 and OMI.

How many more emails, SMS messages, and web push notifications are marketers sending out?

  • Email volume increased by around 70% over a two-year period starting in 2020. That year, Omnisend analyzed over 10 billion marketing email messages to produce these KPIs. That number hit 12 billion in 2021, then jumped to 17 billion in 2022.
  • In one year, there was a 69.8% increase in SMS messages and a 283.3% increase in web push messages. In 2020, Omnisend analyzed over 31 million SMS and web push messages as one category. The number of SMS messages analyzed by Omnisend grew from 63 million in 2021 to 107 million in 2022. The number of web push messages jumped even more strikingly over the same time frame, from 54 million to 207 million.

The increase in message volume isn’t necessarily a bad thing, given that automated email campaigns are performing better than scheduled email campaigns. Competition in the inbox has increased, but well targeted campaigns can still be effective.

Due to this shift to automated campaigns, ecommerce marketers can’t look at email conversion rate alone: They should also consider click rate to determine if additional automated emails are performing at the same or higher rate as the benchmark. In fact, 46% of US marketers agreed that click rate was the most effective measure of email marketing performance, per Ascend2 and OMI.

Click rates dropped by more than 10% YoY in 2022, making it even more important for marketers to focus on the messaging that is breaking through.

  • Types of emails that saw YoY improvements in click rate include order confirmation (9.2% versus 10.4%), welcome (5.2% versus 5.3%), and product abandonment (5.3% versus 5.4%).
  • Types of emails that saw YoY declines include shipping confirmation (23.6% versus 22.0%), browse abandonment (6.4% versus 3.9%), birthday (7.2% versus 5.6%), and cross-sell (3.1% versus 2.5%).

Order and shipping confirmation emails have the highest click rates. That demonstrates consumers are looking for communication that closes the loop and offers reassurance that their purchase is being fulfilled.

Consumers are also growing more comfortable with getting marketing messages via SMS and web push notifications. Email’s share of marketing messages steadily lost ground to push and SMS between Q1 2020 to Q3 2022, according to data from Salesforce.

SMS conversion and click rates are currently performing well, a signal that incorporating SMS and web push messages into marketing campaigns could help improve engagement.

Interested in learning more about Industry KPIs? We’ve got an explainer for you.